Friday, December 21, 2012


...that Pope Paul VI has been named as "Venerable" the first step towards beatification and canonisation.

During the course of research for a new book, about Brigettine nuns who saved the lives of Jewish people during World War II,  Auntie was surprised to discover the quietly heroic work of young Monsignor Montini. He was the go-about man for the then Pope, Pius XII, in making secret arrangements for the hiding of Jewish people in convents and monasteries in Rome. This took courage: discovery could mean grisly consequences for all involved. The Nazis might have been squeamish about killing the Pope, given  the probable reaction in Italy and the world, but eliminating an obscure monsignor would not have brought them too many worries. Mgr Montini went in person to meet nuns and monks to make arrangements for the Jewish refugees - it wasn't something that could be done by letter or announced in a public broadcast.  It is an aspect of his life about which I would like to know more, because the story so far is interesting.

As Pope Paul VI, he continued in the tradition of his mentor Pius XII looking very formal and solemn in public - there are some pictures of him smiling, but not many (even fewer than poor Pius XII, who had very little to smile about during the years of WWII and its aftermath), which is a pity because apparently he was a man of good humour and was good company. One of his colleagues described him as "a Pope of joy" even when beset by troubles - and he had plenty of those in the tumultuous years of Vatican II and onwards. He gave us Humanae Vitae and the Credo of the People of God, for which he deserves our gratitude. The former is a clarion call of truth and will be hailed as such by history.  He agonised (I think the word is not too strong) over Communism and felt betrayed when having struggled to obtain concessions from the despots ruling Eastern Europe he found that they had no intention of keeping their word.(It took a magnificent  Polish Pope with a different aproach and a clear understanding of the reality of life in the Eastern bloc to change things, and the change was superb and dramatic and thrilling - but that's another story).

I became a fan of Paul VI after reading a vile attack on him by some  "traditionalist Catholics": it got me studying more about him and I found a good, holy priest whose love of God and the Church and human beings shone brightly, a Pope whose true story deserved telling. I am glad that this is now happening.


Patricius said...

Hear! Hear!

Terry said...

I think the trouble with Pope Paul VI was that he was too gentle a man for the role. But it took someone like him to produce Humanae Vitae, and history will indeed show how true the Pope's writings were, and how much society has suffered for ignoring it.